Axe handle material

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by TheWoodenOyster posted 06-03-2013 05:53 PM 6038 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1313 posts in 1897 days

06-03-2013 05:53 PM

I am calling upon all you guys who have any lumberjAck experience or have used axes a lot in the past. I am making an axe handle for my dad and was wondering what kind of wood to use. I figure ash and hickory are the two obvious answers, and was wondering what y’all’s opinions were on each of them, or if there is some secret about using a different hardwood.

Thanks in advance for the input.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

5 replies so far

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2248 days

#1 posted 06-03-2013 06:52 PM

If you have a choice, get Ash. Hickory handles are more prone to shattering. Either is a good choice, but I prefer ash if possible. Straight grain, not a lot of color variation, no knots. And I never varnish an axe handle… or shovel or hatchet or any wood handled tool (varnished or laquered handles will raise a blister a lot faster than a bare wood handle that’s been oiled). Just get it clean and smooth with about a 180 grit, and then rub it with boiled linseed oil. Don’t bother with a rag. Just use your hand with a rubber glove. Putting it on a rag leaves a lot in the rag :). 3 or 4 coats on a new handle, about 15 minutes to half an hour apart and then let it be. Don’t forget to do the top of the handle. Some folks cut the top off flush with the axe head. I leave it stick out a little. It’s fine.

And make sure you know which is the top of the axe and which is the bottom. The hole for the handle is tapered. If it still has a handle in it, mark the top with a punch or something.

View sprucegum's profile


324 posts in 1959 days

#2 posted 06-03-2013 08:11 PM

All good advice. After shaping my handles and getting them fit to the axe I dip the portion of the handle that will be inside the head in oil base paint just before driving it home for the last time. This helps protect the wood from decay, when the paint dries it helps keep the handle tight, and the wet paint acts as a lubricant when driving it in allowing it to slide further up the taper for a real tight fit. I use black rustoleum the black around the head looks good at least to my eyes. I will not get into the ash hickory debate but I think hickory makes a nicer looking handle and is a little easier to shape. Old timers around here swore by hornbeam but a good strait piece with no knots is hard co come by.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

View WDHLT15's profile


1729 posts in 2438 days

#3 posted 06-03-2013 08:34 PM

Hickory is the go-to handle. Has been ever since there has been axes.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2637 days

#4 posted 06-03-2013 08:37 PM

Hickory is what ax handle and most other handles have always been made from. Must be a reason why the better handles are hickory.

View bold1's profile


293 posts in 1809 days

#5 posted 06-03-2013 08:43 PM

Split, White Oak, stronger than Hickory or Ash if it’s split to get straight grain. Ramrods, wheel spokes, and handles were made from it. Tell your Dad if he keeps the axe head down in a can with a little oil in it the head will always be tight. Linseed is good.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics